Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will begin services connecting Tampa International Airport (TPA) with London Heathrow Airport (LHR) on November 2nd. Upon the arrival of the Inaugural flight in TPA, several VIP guests will give speeches, after which a celebration will take place. The airline plans to operate the route four times per week before increasing flight frequency to once daily at the end of the month.

Inaugural flight

The inaugural flight will be flown on the airlines’ new Airbus A330neo, which has been christened “Billie Holiday.” It will carry several VIP passengers from LHR to TPA to give speeches at the ramp arrival celebration. The speakers will include Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Shai Weiss, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, Tampa Airport’s CEO Joe Lopano, the mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, and Virgin Atlantic’s founder Richard Branson.

Virgin Airbus A330neo

Photo: Virgin Atlantic

In anticipation of the inaugural flight, TPA’s CEO, Joe Lopano shared the airports’ enthusiasm and excitement for the new route. Airport executives believe the route will be successful and promote profitability for all involved parties as both airports and the airline will see an increase in passenger traffic. Lopano stated,

“Not only does this create another Tampa-U.K. option for our leisure travelers, but there’s a huge upside for our thriving business community to now have convenient access from TPA to the world’s premier business airport,

“We expect this to be a popular route during what we know will be a very busy winter travel season.”

Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Operations Officer, Juha Jarvinen, shared the airlines’ optimistic outlook for the route. The airline foresees the route as being consistent and profitable. It anticipates high volumes of demand as European travelers visit Tampa for its natural beauty and world-famous theme parks. While American travelers use the route to visit Europe to experience its many natural wonders and historic sights. Jarvinen said,

“We are delighted to continue our expansion in the U.S. with this new daily service to Tampa offering even more choice for customers on both sides of the Atlantic to connect between the U.S. and the U.K.

“Florida is very much a firm favorite for our customers ever since our first flight to Miami back in 1986. With the popular theme parks and the stunning beaches of St. Pete and Clearwater within easy reach, we know it’s an area our customers will love to explore.”

Transoceanic route

The four-time per-week route will be increased to once per day starting November 28th. This once-daily service on the A330 will offer over 190,000 seats every year. This will be the only non-stop route connecting TPA with LHR. It will also make TPA one of only four US airports to offer passengers a choice between the two main airports in London. British Airways operates a flight between TPA and London Gatwick Airport (LGW).

A Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 on final at LHR

Photo: Getty Images

The other three airports offering connections to both LHR and LGW are New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Orlando International Airport (MCO). TPA is also the third airport serviced by Virgin Atlantic in Florida. The airline already operates flights to MCO and Miami International Airport (MIA).

What do you think of this new route? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1041 (2)

    Virgin Atlantic

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    London Heathrow Airport

    Year Founded:

    Shai Weiss

    United Kingdom


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